When in doubt, KNEAD it out!
When I was younger, I just loved to bake.
I would bake with my Grandma.
I would bake with my Mama.
I would bake with my best friend.
I would bake by myself.
I would bake when I was bored.
I would bake when I was sad.
I would bake when I was happy.
I would bake when I was stressed.
And then…I stopped. I stopped baking when I moved to New York City.
I realized that I’ve been getting crankier.
I’ve felt like something was missing.
I was missing baking.
Not just baking cookies.
But really baking.
And so, after a way too long sabbatical, I baked my first loaf of bread.
I started with a recipe that I’d never made alone. That has a special place in my heart.
My Grandma’s French Bread, from her original recipe.
I tweaked Grandma’s bread just a tad–but it came out tasty. (And was gobbled up in minutes when I brought it to a fondue gathering!) And I will bake it again soon,
Because there is something fantastic about kneading dough by hand. You let out your frustrations. You let out your happiness. You let out everything. And can only knead. There’s no room for thinking when you are kneading dough. It’s a meditation in motion.
So I will continue to knead. And even if you have a dough hook to offer me (someday, pink KitchenAid, you will be mine!!), I will still knead dough by hand. For the joy of it.
I recommend you give it a shot.
Rose and Lora’s FRENCH BREAD
- 1 package dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 cups HOT water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter + extra for greasing bowl
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 scant tablespoon salt
- 6-7 cups all purpose flour
- 2 eggs (Grandma only used 1 egg white), beaten slightly with 1 tablespoon water
- Cornmeal (optional)
1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Ad a little flour and let it begin to rise while mixture cools to lukewarm.
2. In a large bowl combine 2 cups hot water, salt, butter, sugar. Let cool to lukewarm.
3. Add yeast mixture and two cups of flour to the large bowl with water/salt/butter/etc. Beat well.
4. Add remaining flour and beat well after each addition. Grandma used four cups for this, but I only found I needed three. You want the flour to beat well and do not want the dough to get dry or grainy. Use your best judgement here.
5. Turn dough out on a well floured board or table.
6. Knead dough for approximately ten minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
7. Place dough in greased large metallic bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let it rise in a warm place until double in size. This should take approximately two hours–DO NOT RUSH THE RISING PROCESS. Be patient. I like to put my dough on top of the dryer.
8. Punch the dough down and let it rise again until it is double in size.
9. Take the dough and turn it out on a floured board. Divide dough in half. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
10. Roll each dough half into a rectangle 15″ by 12″ inch shape. (Or other bread-looking shape.) Roll tightly–the long side toward you, in a neat, tight roll and seal well.
11. Grease two cookie sheets or line parchment paper on two cookie sheets. OPTIONAL: sprinkle cookie sheets with corn meal.
12. Place dough rolls on sheets and slit every 3 inches with a sharp knife.
13. Brush top off dough with egg mixture using a pastry brush.
14. Let rise for an hour to an hour and thirty minutes. Rolls should get BIG.
15. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. At 20 minutes, take bread out. Brush again with egg mixture and return to oven for another 20 minutes or until bread is cooked through. (You can try the tapping technique–I still have not mastered that.)
Let bread cool slightly before eating, and then DIG IN!